Thorn, an orphaned Goth, is brought up in a monastery, transferred to a nunnery, and thrown out into the world when it's discovered that he's a ...Show synopsisThorn, an orphaned Goth, is brought up in a monastery, transferred to a nunnery, and thrown out into the world when it's discovered that he's a hermaphrodite. As the Roman Empire comes under increasing threat, Thorn finds himself riding alongside the King of the Goths. By the author of "Aztec".Hide synopsis
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I read Gary Jennings's 'Aztec' and enjoyed it immensely. I bought 'Raptor' on the strength of that first experience. It was a mistake. 'Raptor' is, like, about the absolute worst historical novel I have ever read -- and brother I've read a ton of 'em.
Thorn, the protagonist of 'Raptor,' is a hermaphrodite. (S)he is fully equipped and fully functional as both a man and a woman. His/her dual capability is his/her ace in the hole (no pun intended). Whenever (s)he gets into a jam, (s)he pulls out the other set of sex organs, baffles the villains with BS, and gallops off into the distance while the pursuit is looking for a person of the opposite sex. After the third or fourth time (s)he pulls one of these switcheroos, the ruse seems somewhat less than clever and eventually goes way south of believable. The really neatest thing about his/her dual identity is that none of her lovers ever notice that she is also a he and none of HIS lovers ever notice that he is also a she. Ahh! But they do say love is blind. . . .
Sexual duality eventually betrays Thorn. After being captured by a tribe of troglodytic Amazons (or were they centaurs?) in the wooded wilds of Poland (or Finland, or some horrid, dreary place up north), (s)he meets another just like him/herself and the two of them go for a truly hot roll in the hay. Both of them experience orgasms as a man and a woman at the same time, and the intensity of the experience is too much for Thorn. (S)he is utterly besotted with his/her new pal and his/her heart is broken when he/she learns that his/her lover is actually a bad gal/guy.
Had I been writing the story, I'd have got them both pregnant and left them, knocked up, captives of troglodytic Amazons (centaurs?) who lived in the wooded wilds of Poland (or Finland, or some horrid, dreary place up north). It would have been an appropriate end. But Jennings didn't do that. Jennings had Thorn flee the Amazons and landed him in Italy just in time to involve him/herself with the crowd and the intrigues that roiled around the barbarian emperor Theodoric.
"A good thing, too!" I say. What would history be minus the fanciful escapades of Thorn?
It's all unbelievably silly but it's all in keeping with Mr. Jennings's sexual obsession, an obsession to which he alluded in 'Aztec' but did not fully (ahem) expose in that brilliant work. In 'Raptor,' it seems that Jennings's obsession led the author to map an absurd plot and the story he built on that flawed foundation had no hope of being anything but a stinker.
I read 'Raptor' almost 20 years ago and finished it only because I paid $25 for the book. Yeesh! What a burn.
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